The signatory non-governmental organizations condemn the targeted attacks carried out on October 19thon five regional offices of the opposition party – United National Movement. There is reasonable doubt that these actions were provoked by the public screening, on October 17-18th, of the so-called torture footage. We believe that such actions risk destabilizing the country and driving processes outside legal parameters. Such actions and dispositions pose a serious threat to Georgia’s democratic development and represent a significant step back on Georgia’s euro-Atlantic path.
It must be noted that members of local government bodies, including local executive offices (gamgeoba)actively participated in these attacks, as well as Georgian Dream activists, representatives of the organization - Free Generation and aggressive citizens, armed with brooms and eggs. Such violent rallies were organized in 7 regions of Georgia, including in Kutaisi, Batumi, Gori, Akhaltsikhe, Ozurgeti, Gurjaani, Telavi, Tetritskaro, Poti and Rustavi. The word "liquidated” was the common slogan of all attacks. Statements such as "SOS, UNM is liquidated”, "torturers, vanish” were heard at the violent rallies. The activists nailed the doors shut with wooden boards in UNM offices of Rustavi, Tetristkaro, Gurjaani and Gori.
In addition to committing violent acts, which transgressthe constitutional right of peaceful assembly and manifestation, the activists committed numerous administrative offenses (i.e. the activists painted their slogans and symbols on the main road) that were not adequately addressed by law enforcement agencies. Keeping in mind the recent detention of Tabula Director, Tamar Chergoleishvili, as well as the arrest and criminal indictment of Rustavi 2 supporters in Kutaisi, who remain in two-month pre-trial detention, the inaction of the police during the attacks on opposition party members and offices creates reasonable doubt that the law is being applied in a selective and politically-motivated manner. It is notable that there are numerous other examples of such police inaction and subsequent impunity of offenders.
It is noteworthy that a few hours prior to the attacks, the so-called torture footage was screened publically, through the active participation of government representatives; specifically, in Zugdidi, the city mayor, Irakli Gogokhia, attended the public screening organized in the city center. Such screening of this type of footage serves to artificially raise tensions among various groups of the population. Also, reasonable doubts are raised that these processes are specifically orchestrated to discredit the opposition, swiftly followed by violent attacks the subsequent day.
Therefore, the public screening of the so-called torture footage, organized with active participation of public servants, and the subsequent onset, within a few hours, of targeted attacks against the UNM, with participation of Georgian Dream activists, prove that this is all part of a unified, premeditated process of the government, which serves to dislodge the main opposition force from the political playing field in the lead-up to the elections.
Such violent acts against opposition parties and their supporters are unquestionably undemocratic and illegal and create the threat of irreparable damage to both Georgia’s internal and external stability.
Therefore, we once again urge relevant government agencies to adequately and swiftly react to this violence; end rather than support any actions that may provoke violence; ensure that processes do not exceed legal boundariesand guarantee that their actions do not put Georgia’s euro-Atlantic aspirationsinto question.
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS)
Media Development Foundation (MDF)
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)